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PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
August 29, 2007

Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Patricia Cabrera
(609) 984-7160


 
DHSS Distributes Bilingual Communication Boards to Healthcare Providers To Improve Quality of Communications with Diverse Communities -- Second Phase of State's Strategic Plan to Eliminate Health Disparities --


 

The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has developed and distributed communication boards in English and Spanish to healthcare providers statewide to help provide culturally and linguistically appropriate medical care to patients with limited English proficiency.

The initiative is one of the key recommendations made in the Department’s “2007 Strategic Plan to Eliminate Health Disparities.”

“The Department’s core mission is to ultimately eliminate health disparities,” said Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.  “Too often ordinary citizens may not receive proper health care because there is a communications disconnect between the provider and patient. The communication boards are a very important first step to eliminate that problem.”

Through this collaboration of the DHSS and the New Jersey Hospital Association (NJHA), people with limited English proficiency will be able to point to the appropriate pictures on the board to help communicate with health care providers. The board can be used at the scene of emergencies, shelters, hospitals, first aid stations or any other health care facility.

To date, DHSS has developed more than 2,200 communication boards and have distrbuted them to NJHA hospitals and New Jersey’s Federally Qualified Health Centers. Later this fall, the boards will be distributed to all New Jersey Emergency Medical Services (EMS) organizations.

The Department has also launched a related initiative that will develop a curriculum for medical interpreters and cultural competency training that focuses on culturally appropriate care, ensuring that the state’s diverse residents can navigate the health care system and communicate better with providers.

DHSS recently held a workshop with leaders of community-based organizations from around the state. Led by Dr. Debbie Salas-Lopez, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.P., and in collaboration with DHSS’ Office of Minority and Multicultural Health, the workshop is the basis of a pilot program that will help provide coordination and continuity in medical interpreters and the translation of health information.

The “Strategic Plan to Eliminate Health Disparities” was launched by DHSS in March 2007. The plan inventories existing DHSS programs designed to address disparities, identifies gaps in access and programs, and develops benchmarks that build on the department’s successful programs as well as new programs. The plan, which has a three-year implementation period, also includes evaluation tools to measure success.

The plan is posted on the DHSS website at www.nj.gov./health.

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